June 27, 2017

Recently Read


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot.
What a fascinating book! I had never heard of HeLa or this story until it was recommended to me by some coworkers. It was suggested as a topic for our book club, and I am so glad it was! It's the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman who died of cervical cancer in the early 1950s. The doctors took some of the cancerous cells from her tumor, without her knowledge or consent, and those cells ended up becoming a vital tool in the scientific community, contributing to the development of vaccines and other medical advancements. The book balances the scientific talk with the story of Henrietta and her family, as well as the author, who went on this journey with them to shine a light on Henrietta's life. I highly, highly recommend.

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles.
I very much enjoyed this book, as I did his first book (Rules of Civility). The writing is wonderful, and he does such a good job of creating the setting. I am transported to the Metropol - a hotel in Moscow - in the1920s. Every scene is beautifully described, and I'm not distracted by the details, but rather I am absorbed by them. The story spans several decades and almost never leaves the hotel, and yet the story remained interesting the entire time. And the ending....well, let's just say that I adored the ending. Very satisfying.

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead.
I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this book. Part of me wishes I had a book club group to discuss it with, because it is certainly worthy of discussion. I do think that it is a fresh and unique approach to telling a story about slavery. On the other hand, making the underground railroad a literal thing felt odd and seems to somehow take away from the actual history. The book contains one main character - a slave girl named Cora - but her journey takes her to so many places that it often feels like separate stories as she moves from place to place. That said, those stories are powerfully depicted, they stay with you, and they make you think about what they say about race relations today. Overall, I liked the book, and it's absolutely worthwhile.

June 15, 2017

A Few Things...


I haven't been keeping up the blog, but I've still been reading, and it has become a habit to save links that I find interesting. I thought I'd clear out my history a bit and share some of the articles and posts I've enjoyed (somewhat) recently. Enjoy!

The Busier You Are, the More You Need Quiet Time. Yes to this. But why is it so hard to do?

Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids. Aaron is off to middle school next year, and I've found myself drawn to articles like these. I want to be prepared for what's to come. After school orientation, a mom I know sent an email out to a huge distribution to let everyone know that her son would not be getting a phone next year - she was seeking support and solidarity. Maybe if we all agreed, we could keep them away for a while longer. She mostly received positive feedback, but a few disagreed, and it also seemed that quite a few parents are planning on giving them phones in 6th grade. 11 years old! Sigh. No judgment, truly - every family is different - but we do plan to hold out a bit longer than that.

Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers. As I said, we're entering middle school next year, so college admissions is quite a ways off. But it's never too early to think about this, especially as they are still figuring out what their interests are.

Check This Box if You’re a Good Person. "..in the chaos of SAT scores, extracurriculars and recommendations, one quality is always irresistible in a candidate:  kindness."  I don't want my kids to be kind in order to get into college - I just want my kids to be kind.

Not Naughty: 10 Ways Kids Appear to Be Acting Bad But Aren't. I told my husband about this one. A reminder that so many of the ways our kids drive us crazy are completely normal. Sometimes we just have to let them be.

Politics of Professions. Not surprising, but fascinating. Most librarians are Democrats, most farmers are Republicans. As a group, doctors are in the middle, though pediatricians lean left and urologists right.

What Biracial People Know. Interesting article about the power of diversity in individuals as well as groups.

The Guilty Secret of Distracted Parenting. Oh my, I was definitely that mom on the playground reading a book or staring at her phone. Sitting at a playground while your kids play is boring! So is sitting outside the room while they practice piano. Or take their swim lesson. I'm grateful for Instagram and Twitter during those times. I am careful during games, and I typically only use my phone to text score updates to my husband, but I've realized that this looks the same to my kids - they only see me looking down. And dinnertime? Never - that's an absolute rule that I am careful to keep. No phones near the dinner table. All of it is a challenge and something to keep in mind, as we are modeling our kids' future behavior.

10 things that surprised me about early retirement. If we are far away from college, we are definitely far away from retirement. And yet I found this article intriguing. I wonder how long I will want to continue working. I wonder how Kevin will enjoy retirement.

How to Raise a Feminist Son. I think we're doing okay so far, but not in all these areas. I let them cry, they have lots of role models and exposure to different types of families, they have chores, and I'm teaching them to cook and clean. I encourage them to be themselves, although it's discouraging to see the pressure put on them from their peers. Nathan loved the pink stroller he got (at his request) for his 4th birthday, and he used to love princesses; but it all changed once he started school. We play with girls and read books where girls are the main character/hero. (Aaron is digging Nancy Drew right now.) Probably the area where we could improve the most is that we mostly adhere to traditional roles around the house. "If the mother cooks the food and cleans the house and the father mows the lawn and is often gone from home, lessons are learned." I worry about this, but we do the best we can.

Update:  You Should've Asked. THIS.

June 12, 2017

Recently Read


Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders.
I LOVED this book. It's super weird and fascinating, and there's also real emotion and depth to it. It so uniquely and brilliantly weaves historical accounts of the night Willie Lincoln died with a supernatural story of ghosts in Willie's graveyard. I can imagine many people will hate this book. My husband is currently reading it, and every night when he puts it down, he says "this book is so strange". And it is. But if you're able to go into it with a completely open mind and no expectations for how a story should be presented to you, I promise it's worth it. It often reads like a play, and I can imagine the audiobook is especially entertaining. I may have to check that out, too.

Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett.
I liked this book. Well-written, interesting story, and thoughtful. I didn't love it, though, and the characters didn't stay with me afterwards. The organization of the book was a bit confusing to me, and I found it a little difficult to keep up with the multiple storylines and timeframes. It's a shame, because the individual chapters themselves contained some beautiful words and compelling insights. I wanted to love it more.

Discover Your True North, by Bill George.
The only thing I learned from this book is that I will never be a high-powered billionaire executive. And that's okay. I do like the concept of understanding yourself and your priorities and using that to navigate your career. That's much of what we focused on during my recent leadership training at work. It's important to understand who you are and to stay grounded in that rather than getting caught up in doing what you think you need to do to get ahead. All that said, I think I'm going to stay away from the business books for a while. Books are an escape from work.

June 6, 2017

Taking Control...


Several weeks ago, on a regular evening after work and school, I casually mentioned to Aaron that he should practice the piano. He put his head down on the counter and started to cry. Taken aback, I asked him what was wrong. He said, "It's too hard!" Evidently he was a bit overwhelmed by the piece he was learning, so he was intimidated to start. I listened, and then explained that he should break it down into smaller, more manageable parts, and not get hung up on what the teacher wanted him to accomplish before next week's lesson. After some back and forth, we sat at the piano together and got started. He's still tackling that beast, and I'm so proud of him for not giving up.

After this conversation, I realized that I needed to give myself the same pep talk. I've been overwhelmed by the amount of work I've had lately, and in addition to sheer volume, there has been some challenging work as well. Spring is already a very busy time of year. Piano recitals, baseball games, chorus concerts, etc. It seems that every day has an event. I adore every one of these events, but it can be tough to find balance. When I get overwhelmed by my to-do list, it can be difficult to motivate myself and stay organized. It's much more tempting to check social media, read the news, watch TV...anything to procrastinate from the work I should be doing. Then, after being on my computer all day at work, I rarely want to get back online to do things like send personal emails or update my poor, neglected blog.

But I'm almost there. There are only two weeks left of school. I checked a few big items off my work to-do list, and I'm hoping the schedule will become a bit more manageable. I'm working to get my inbox and to-do list under control. I'm also learning to say no more often. I reminded myself that I do have a voice in how much I take on.

And so, with spring almost nearing its end, I am taking control and putting my priorities back in place. Then, I can enjoy life more fully. I can appreciate all those happy events and not feel distracted by everything else swirling around in my head. I can be more patient and attentive. I can be proactive and thinking towards the future. I can reach out to friends, make connections. And yes, I can update the blog.


March 23, 2017

Okemo 2017

Get ready for a flurry of activity, because I'm determined to get my little space here updated. I may go through phases, but I'm not ready to let it go!

Now that it's spring, let's start with a few pictures and memories from Winter Break. We had a fabulous week with our best friends, skiing in Vermont. We splurged this year and rented a place right on the mountain, so we were able to step outside the door, put on our skis, and go! We could ski back to the condo for lunch, not having to fight the crowds at the lodge. It was wonderful and totally worth it, especially since there were quite a few times when we needed to split up for various reasons.

Skiing has become the best part of winter for our family, and the boys absolutely love it. It's something that we all enjoy, and we love to do it together. The weather was relatively warm, which was great at the beginning, and when the conditions worsened later in the week, we challenged ourselves at the top of the mountain. The boys skied black diamond slopes with confidence.

We didn't get out as much as I would have liked, but we thoroughly enjoyed every day we had on the slopes. I want to figure out how to do it more often.

Good-bye, Winter 2017. Welcome Spring.




I love watching the boys in their tuck!

Love.

February 16, 2017

Taking Stock - February 2017

How my boys feel about snow. Pure joy. 

I am...

Feeling - Overwhelmed. Life is too busy right now, and I'm not keeping all the balls in the air. 
Watching - We are all caught up on Game of Thrones. (When is season 7?!?  I'm going through withdrawals.) Everything else pales in comparison. Blackish does make me laugh, though - actually, it makes me laugh and think, which is pretty awesome.
Wearing - The same big Patagonia coat I've had for years. Big, warm, comfy, and necessary to survive walking around Boston in February.
Appreciating - Snowy days. They are so much better than the cold and rainy ones.
Eating - Chocolate-covered strawberries and dark chocolate hearts. It's Valentine's week.
Listening - Lots of new albums coming out right now. Tift Merritt, Nikki Lane, Ryan Adams. Also, the Grammy awards inspired me to listen to Purple Rain several times this week. I need to ensure that I am fully supporting the musical education of my kids.
Wanting - More time for yoga. Always.
Reading - I just received and promptly started George Saunder's latest, Lincoln in the Bardo. It's weird and fascinating and wonderful already.
Thinking - Manchester by the Sea might be one of the saddest movies ever. It's going to stay with me for a very long time.
Loving- The homemade Valentines I received from the boys. They both take such pride in presenting me with their creations.
Anticipating - A trip north next week for winter break. Skiing in Vermont! With our best friends! I can't wait!
Planning - A trip south to visit my mom and sister during sprint break. I need to get it booked! (This is one of the many balls that I've dropped.)
Working - Too much. But really...working on tipping the scale back over to "balance".  Next week's vacation should help.
Wondering - If the next four years will all be like these last few weeks. And thinking about how I can avoid the news more, because it makes me anxious and sad. But then acknowledging that I need to stay well-informed. How can I do that and still say sane?

January 31, 2017

Recently Read


My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout.
A lovely, sad, sentimental, thoughtful book. It's about family relationships, family struggles. Finding your own identity and leaving your family. The story takes place in the hospital. Lucy Barton is recovering from an operation, and her mother, who she hasn't seen in years, comes to stay with her. We listen to the exchanges between these two women, to gossip and old family stories and flashbacks, and attempt to understand the bond between them. It was difficult for me, and I found it hard to relate to Lucy, but I felt for her all the same.

The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan.
A difficult and tragic, but definitely worthy, read. Two brothers and their friend go to pick up their family's TV set at a repair shop in Delhi, and the brothers are killed by a bomb. The book deals in the aftershocks of this horrible event to many of those impacted by it - the boys' parents, the friend, his parents, and even the bomb maker. It is beautifully written, and although I have no personal experience in that part of the world, I was transported to India and into the lives of these characters.

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.
I'd been wanting to mark this one off my to-read list for a while, and when my fourth-grader read it with his class, I decided it was time. It's wonderful. It's the story of August (Auggie) Pullman, a ten-year-old boy with severe facial deformities. He had been home-schooled by his mother, but his parents decide it's time for him to start school. He attends a private middle school and works to adjust to middle school life. Middle school is difficult for anybody, but Auggie has to endure stares, screams, rumors, names...and he manages to do this without losing his own sense of self, humor, and kindness. The book is written from several different perspectives, and the chapters are short, making it a fast read that is accessible to all readers. I cried tears of sadness and tears of joy, and I'm happy my son loved it too.

January 30, 2017

Weekend Recap

It wouldn't be winter without a selfie from the ski lift.

I can feel the days getting longer. It's not quite as dark in the mornings as it had been. That said, we are still pretty far away from spring. It's still time to enjoy and appreciate winter. 

We had an especially busy weekend, but it felt balanced and good all around. Saturday included yoga, errands (hair cuts, grocery shopping...), basketball, and an evening at our house with good friends and their boys. We grilled steaks (yes, the grill still works in January, and no, I didn't eat a steak) and enjoyed catching up with friends. Kevin and I had attempted another alcohol-free January, but we agreed to end it a few days early to sip some wine on the last Saturday of the month. Four weeks is pretty good, right? (Side note:  I only had a couple glasses but still slept like crap and felt not-so-great the next day. I think I'll be continuing to decrease my alcohol consumption overall, because I think my body isn't digging it any more.)  

Sunday was skiing. We went to a local mountain (an hour away) and enjoyed a beautiful day on the slopes. We got home mid-afternoon and watched another couple episodes of Game of Thrones before our dinner of spaghetti and meatballs.  

That's a good weekend!

January 27, 2017

A Few Things...


Just a few things I've bookmarked recently...  Have a fabulous weekend!

How to raise kinder, less entitled kids (according to science).  This article from The Washington Post doesn't share anything I didn't already know, but it's still a good reminder. It can be difficult to think of all the things we do that influence the way our kids learn and behave and think about the world. Especially when you do some things differently than the families around you, it's good to hear the message that you're doing the right thing. (Or to be given the gentle nudge that maybe there's a better way.)

Blue Feed, Red Feed.  I hope most people know they live in a bubble most of the time. This is a good tool to review and see how differently people can receive information from social media sites. I'm helped by some conservative family and friends, but I still consciously watch/read Fox News sometimes in order to get a different perspective. It's painful, but it's important. I wish we didn't keep pushing everyone to the extremes.

What Teens Need Most From Their Parents.  As you can tell, I'm drawn to articles and studies on parenting. I want to get it right. This one is interesting and serves as a reminder that teenagers need more, not less, attention from their parents.

The World's Oldest Yoga Teacher Has Some Advice.  This woman is worth looking at for the pictures alone. They certainly inspire me to continue to improve in my yoga practice. But the words about all of the benefits of yoga inspire me too.

My President Was Black.  A history of the first African American White House--and of what came next.  A really long but worthwhile read about President Obama.

In Which I am a Little Bit of a Wimp.  I loved this blog post from Tania Kindersley.  I found myself nodding at several points while reading. The desire to be kind and to see progress without being a fighter myself.

January 26, 2017

Recently Read


A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman.
A story about a curmudgeon (what a great word that is, by the way) in Sweden. It took me a little while to get into this one, but it definitely grew on me. It's a beautiful, heartwarming story. It will remind you that everyone has a story. Everyone has struggles, and you may not understand what's going on behind the face that people show to the world.

Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine.
You have to go into this one knowing that it is poetry. If you go in with that open mind, you will be able to let the messages hit you hard and sink in. Poems, mini-essays, prose poetry...whatever you call them, they are powerful. They shed light on racism in all its forms, even/especially the small acts of prejudice encountered by people of color every day. It will open your eyes.

Paris for One, and Other Stories, by Jojo Moyes.
As I've said before, I'd read just about anything by Jojo Moyes. This one is a collection of short stories. Paris for One is about 100 pages, so more of a novella. The others are very short stories. I enjoyed Paris for One in particular, and I liked all the stories. Nothing that I'd rush out to buy or tell all my friends about, but a good entertaining read nonetheless.

January 25, 2017

Scenes from the Boston Women's March...



What a beautiful weekend. We are living in interesting and concerning times, and it felt really good to get out and do something. My sister-in-law and I drove into Boston for the Women's March, and similar to what happened in cities around the world, the crowd was much larger than anticipated. It was a beautiful sea of people, all happy to be standing together and making our voices heard. It was positive, peaceful, and powerful.  

I will admit there were quite a few signs that served to make fun of our new president (many featuring the p-word, references to tiny hands, his love of Putin, his hair, etc.); and although some made me laugh, they weren't my favorites. My favorites were thoughtful and serious and spoke to the issues we are genuinely concerned about. The same with the chants - some were more directed towards President Trump, but most were focused on the need to influence our culture in a positive way. My favorite:  "Let's go Science!" 

I came away feeling inspired and uplifted, knowing that so many out there feel the same way I do about so many issues. Let's hope we can keep that feeling alive.







January 20, 2017

January 19, 2017

Menu of the Week


I haven't done one of these in a long time. I've been stuck in a bit of a rut, making the same dinners over and over. There's nothing really wrong with that, as most of the dinners are healthy and enjoyed by all, but I do like to mix it up every now and then. I get bored, and I especially want to make sure my boys are game for trying new foods. I somehow managed to spend a bit of time looking through some of my old magazines, and I found a few recipes to try. Here's what went down last week...

Spicy Black Bean Soup
Winner! First, I love soups. They're warm and yummy in the winter, the boys generally do well with them, and they're an easy vehicle for veggies. But I hadn't tried a new one in a long time. Nathan likes black beans, so I thought I'd give this a shot. The main reason why this was a success was that he helped me make it. It was his first attempt at cooking on the stove, and he was extremely proud. I was a little worried that it might be too spicy, so I only included 1/2 of a jalapeno - I could've added more. But it was easy, super yummy, and healthy! The boys agreed that adding chopped avocado as a garnish is the best - they said sour cream made it taste too much like chili. Absolutely a keeper!

Parmesan Chicken with Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts, Potatoes
Not super exciting, but another success overall. I don't eat chicken, so I had a salad with the roasted veggies. And I took the leftovers with me for lunch.

Seared Fish with Beets and Broccoli, Beet Greens, Rice
I used cod for this, and it was okay, but I think I've determined that I prefer a flatter fish such as flounder for this type of dish. I loved the veggies, though. I had never cooked a fresh beet, and it was pretty easy - will definitely do it more from now on, because after loathing them as a kid, I now rather enjoy them. I also sauteed up the greens with some garlic and olive oil - yum!

Red Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
This is my favorite winter salad.  Kevin and Aaron had leftover chicken with it; Nathan had a plate of sweet potatoes, walnuts, green beans, and cheese.  Works for me!

January 13, 2017

Hello...

Hello 2017!

I wish I felt quite as perky and optimistic as that sounds. I don't really jump into January - actually, I don't really jump into anything. I ease into things, I tiptoe. Sometimes I get pushed. 

I was happy to get some time over the break to truly unwind. After the Christmas fun, we had several days at home, just the four of us. Time to play games, watch movies, clean, organize, and watch more movies. I think we all needed it, although I wish I could say I felt refreshed and ready to start the new year. The days simply ran out and work/school started again, ready or not.

And so here I am, now a couple weeks in, with a whole new year ahead of me. I'm working to figure out my goals for the year, both personally and professionally. What do I want to be when I grow up? I may never know the answer to this question, and although I'm coming to terms with that, there are definitely people I work with who would prefer I have an answer. Honestly, I am really okay with the not knowing. I enjoy my work, I adore the people, I am learning, I am contributing...what more can I ask for? I've never been one to be motivated by title or money - I am not ambitious in that way. I should say, though, that sometimes I do look at people who know exactly where they want to go and are blazing the path to get there and I am envious. What would that be like?, I wonder. I'll never know.


I do love this time of year. After all the indulgence of the holiday season, January feels clean, motivating. I love all the cheese and wine and cookies in December - sooooo much, too much - and now it's easy to say that I'm done with them all for a while. And it's a good thing, too, because exercise hasn't been happening very regularly lately. 

My to-do list continues to grow so quickly that I'm having a hard time keeping up with just the task of maintaining it! Planning for the year on all fronts. On the home front, there's summer planning. Camp registrations, Drum renewal. Soccer. Baseball. Vacations. School events. Add work to that, and my head spins. 

I need more yoga. Always. Every time I find myself on the mat, I come away feeling energized, with a clear head and ready to take on the world. I haven't done any this week, but I'm looking forward to going to the studio tomorrow morning. 

We got a free six months of HBO, and we decided to watch Game of Thrones. After a couple episodes of learning the characters (so many storylines!), we were hooked. And we have six full seasons. After a few binge-sessions over the holidays, we've been watching one episode a night - we just finished season 3. It's a crazy, violent show, but it's such a fabulously complex story that's told so well. Now that I know what's going on, it's getting harder to avoid hearing spoilers, so I want to catch up with the rest of the world. It's going to take us another month or so...until then, don't tell me anything!

Happy January. Welcome 2017. Maybe by February I'll have my act together.


December 20, 2016

Ready or Not...

I love traditions. Even when they don't last very long, so many of my childhood and family memories are centered around these rituals, real or attempted. We had a "tradition" of having chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast on Christmas morning, and even though I think we only did it a couple times before determining that a big, sweet breakfast only ruined our appetite for the remainder of the day; I still love the memory of piling on the whipped cream - they were happy mornings. Of course, it's also the rituals gone wrong that really stick in the memory - who could forget the year of the upside-down turkey? or of the extremely under-cooked pumpkin pie that my sister poured into the pan? These are the things we still laugh about, years later. 

We have so many traditions that life within our house feel so much the same every year between Thanksgiving and New Year's. I love these comfortable routines, and my boys look forward to them every year. We get the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. We watch A Charlie Brown Christmas after decorating it. We bake and decorate cookies just about every weekend in December. We watch all the movies. We go see the Boston Pops' holiday concert. We eat lobster mac and cheese on Christmas Eve. The boys open one present that night (pjs or slippers). There are little differences that make each year unique of course, but the traditions are the reason Aaron has declared it his favorite time of year. I'm right there with him.  


At the same time, it's a busy time of year, and I am overwhelmed. I am too busy at work right now, and exercise isn't happening, which means I don't feel great and am less able to be totally present for all the good stuff. I also haven't been spending enough time with friends. I need some friend time. We went to brunch at some friends' house last weekend, and it was so refreshing to have a fun, social conversation and connect with people I care about. More of that, please.

We went to our company holiday parties, which were tiring but also fun. It's fun to have an excuse to get dressed up and go out. I bought this jumpsuit last year and took forever to get it altered (I think you need to be 6 feet tall), so this was my first time wearing it. I was late to the jumpsuit bandwagon, but I looooove it. It's so comfortable, and with heels and big sparkly earrings it's dressy, even though my legs are hidden. Love.


My son turned 10. It feels strange that I didn't record that event here yet - almost like it didn't happen. And yet, it did. He's 10. Officially a pre-teen I think, considering his relationship with his brother. (All of a sudden he has no patience for him.) He's a sweet and generous kid, though, and I'm proud of him every day. To celebrate, he had a few friends to sleep over at the house. It was fun to look at this group of boys and see the men they are becoming. So far, he's doing a great job choosing his friends.

Christmas is coming, ready or not. The cards are out, the packages to be mailed will be late this year but I know my family will forgive me; I have started the wrapping, but I haven't started the menu. Ah well, no matter...we will be ready enough when the time comes, and it will be wonderful. There will be a warm and cozy house, a tree with lights, two excited boys, good food, plenty to drink, and family with whom to spend time. Bring it on.


December 15, 2016

My Favorite Music of 2016


I love going through the music I've enjoyed throughout the year, determining which I think will become long-term classics vs. those that were special in a specific time. I love different types of music for different moods and activities. My driving music is different than the music I want to listen to when I'm alone in the house or cooking or entertaining.

When I look back at 2016, Chris Stapleton looms large. (I know his album technically came out in 2015, along with a few others on this list, but this is the year I came to know them. Sometimes I'm late to the game.) When Kevin decides he likes a band, it goes on repeat for months - Chris Stapleton was his favorite of the year for sure.

Other most-played artists include John Moreland, whose gorgeous, sad voice we discovered in Newport. Sturgill Simpson is now grammy-nominated for his awesome follow-up album, which contains beautiful lyrics inspired by his new son. The Revivalists are the band I turn up loud and want to dance around to. Whenever a song comes on that I love and need to check who it is - it's Rayland Baxter; I love every song on that album. Dawes' latest album is so different from their previous albums, and I love it for that.

The entire list of my 2016 favorites:

Chris Stapleton - Traveller
John Moreland - High on Tulsa Heat
Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth
Sarah Jarosz - Undercurrent
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

The Revivalists - Men Amongst Mountains
Rayland Baxter - Imaginary Man
Ages and Ages - Something to Ruin
Blind Pilot - And Then Like Lions
Kingsley Flood - Another Other

Jamestown Revival - The Education of a Wandering Man
Dawes - We're All Gonna Die
Conor Oberst - Ruminations
The Lumineers - Cleopatra
The Head and the Heart - Signs of Light

Shovels & Rope - Little Seeds
Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
Carseat Headrest - Teens of Denial
Amanda Shires - My Piece of Land
John Paul White - Beulah

A few honorable mentions and albums I'm still getting to know:  The Felice Brothers, Lucy Dacus, Brian Fallon, and Courtney Marie Andrews.

December 1, 2016

Recently Read


Last Letter from Your Lover, by Jojo Moyes. I will read anything by Jojo Moyes. She's a wonderful writer, and she loves a happy ending. This story weaves together two couples, a generation apart, with their affairs and their relationships and their drama. I love the older story with its romance documented in letters, with a bit of amnesia mixed in to increase the tension. It might not be as great as Me Before You, but then that's a pretty high bar, isn't it?

Monster, by Walter Dean Myers.  This Young Adult book ended up on my nightstand after I received it as a part of a gift basket from our local library. (We won a raffle during last summer's reading contest.) Otherwise, I'm sure I never would've booked it up. But it's a fast and worthy read. It's written in screenplay format from the perspective of the main character, a 16-year-old who is in prison and on trial for allegedly participating in a robbery that ended in murder. Did he do it? You, the reader, will get to determine what you think after reading his words. It's thought-provoking, and I could see how it would generate some interesting discussion.

We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie. A short, smart essay about modern feminism and what it means to be a feminist today, with all the baggage and misconceptions that term still holds. It's only 60ish pages, so there's no excuse for everyone not to give it a read. Or if you're really lazy, listen to her TED Talk, which is essentially a verbal delivery of this book. She is wonderfully relatable and not at all preachy or condescending in addressing this topic, and she talks about the treatment of boys as much as women in assessing the gender divide.

November 25, 2016

Charleston, South Carolina


I didn't take enough pictures, but trust me - there are so many gorgeous streets and homes.

My mom and sisters and I went to Charleston, South Carolina for a long weekend to celebrate a couple milestone birthdays. My mom turned 70, and my little sister is now 40! We had a fun time getting caught up in person. I had never been to Charleston before, and it's such a beautiful little city. Gorgeous homes, great restaurants, a rich and fascinating history. The weather was not great - cool and dreary, and soaking wet one day - but we still managed to venture out and explore the city. The food was amazing. 

I loved getting to know the city, learning a little about its history, and I really loved getting the opportunity to catch up with my mom and sisters in person. We are all bad about talking on the phone, and it's never the same, so there was a lot to catch up on. It was also great that it was just the four of us - no spouses or kids or home responsibilities to distract us. Hopefully we'll get the opportunity to do it again at some point. In the meantime, we continue to struggle to find time to get the families together. Geography, flight times, work/vacation/school schedules, money, space...these are just some of the challenges we face. But we'll do the best we can to stay connected.

There was a lot of laughing and silliness.

Letters to Cleo


Last weekend, we went to see Letters to Cleo at The Paradise in Boston. It was such a fun show! It was great to listen to the songs of my 20s. I still remember all the words, and I sang them out and danced along with Kay Hanley and the band. Most of the audience knew all the words too. One of my favorite things in the world is to experience live music with a crowd of strangers. 

This is from the night before, in New York. This was their closing song - one of my all-time favorites.

November 23, 2016

Thankful...

My boys

I say it every year:  Thanksgiving is the best day of the year. A day focused on family, food, and gratitude. What could be better?

I am thankful for so much.

I am thankful for the new snood my mom bought me in Charleston. We are calling it a "birthday present" even though my birthday is in March. It is so soft and warm and cute, and I will most likely wear it every single day this winter.

Speaking of Charleston, I am thankful to have spent four days in that beautiful city with my fabulous mom and sisters. It had been many years since the four of us had spent time together, without kids and spouses and general chaos involved. It was lovely. We walked, rode bikes, toured historic homes, visited a museum, did some shopping, ate a ton of really fabulous food, and laughed and really caught up with each other in a way we hadn't in years.

I am thankful for our sitter. She picks the boys up from school, takes them to piano/drums/soccer/etc, reminds them to practice their instruments and to be nice to each other, plays games with them, and generally makes my life better. Oh! And she also cleans my kitchen and tidies the house each day. Last week she took everything out of the pantry, cleaned the whole thing, and organized everything on the shelves. Amazing!

I am thankful for the times that my boys like each other. Unfortunately, it isn't all the time, but there's a decent amount of love in their love/hate relationship. I'm going to focus on the love. They play soccer, trade pokemon, make up silly games, have races... When they play well together, it's beautiful to see.

I am thankful for my cute little old house. It's warm and comfortable. It's home.

We are heading to Connecticut for Thanksgiving. I have been the host for many years now, but I'm handing the reigns over to my sister-in-law this year. I am thankful for my family, for yummy food, for the opportunity to spend time together and enjoy each other's company.

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